I grew up with a mother that, loving though she was, believed that people with great talent – artists, writers and the like – are born with their special gift. She would often watch a program on PBS, say a broadcasting of one of the MET’s operas, and say afterward, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to….’ (Fill in the blank for the specific talent).
You can imagine how hard it was to believe that I could accomplish much, given my mother’s feelings about human genius being confined to the few born into it.
I think a lot of us were raised with parents like this.
Fortunately, I was jolted into overturning these beliefs — a combination of lifetime fascination with human potential (must be my mom’s influence again) — and a personal crisis over the menial work I was doing.
Since my life’s mission is now helping others understand their potential, I’ve given some thought as to how to explain to people, when they insist they aren’t creative, or ‘can’t dance’, that they are espousing a lie. The best metaphor I can think of is – polishing a rock.
My fiance’s daughter has always loved rocks and shells: Geological formations found as little splintered-off things that show their insides. They always show a pattern of some sort.
One day, my fiancé ordered a rock polisher online, called a tumbler, for his daughter.
We put the stones in the metal basin, plus a dose of the supplied sand, turned the machine on, and for a couple of months the thing turned and turned, polishing the little mineral slabs with is constant motion.
When we finally pulled them out, it was like Christmas morning. Not only were they transformed by the sheen and soft buttery feel they now had, but their artistry was more apparent. It was no longer a rock with a few nice colors, it was a thing of beauty.
Human beings are like this. Metaphorically speaking, we all are gifted with some aspect, feature, interest, obsession even, that were we to pull this thing out, make a cross section of it, and polish it, it would gleam.
The challenge is not that people are somehow born without a unique essence – it is there even if one must hunt for it. People just don’t know the technique of paying attention to see what stands out in themselves.
I do. I just gave it to you.